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My name is Jeannie Mark

I’m a mid-lifer who quit a growing corporate career to reawaken my passions — and forge a life set by my own rules.

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Life Lessons

4 Years of Travel

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China

A Last Look at China

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My Writer's Retreat

Creative Revolution Retreats!

Coming Out of the Closet: I’m Size XX

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“You are stronger than your muscles.” — Gloria Latham

“Are you pregnant???”

I swiftly looked down at my belly, where she was staring, dead centre at the hump where my abs were supposed to be.

“Uh, no.” I knew there was a grimace on my face when I answered. But, I was getting fed up with cultural propriety.

For several days, I tried to get use to these blunted questions in the Philippines. My brain reiterated that observational questions like this were not frowned upon, but my flabby stomach felt otherwise. I sucked it in — to minimize the scrutiny.

After I left that country, I’d move onto the next one, innocently appearing at a store or a restaurant, to be met with the same bluntness.

International Women’s Day: Female Trailblazers

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I couldn’t let International Women’s Day pass without, well, talking about women.

Particularly, I want to focus on five women who I’ve stalked, admired, salivated over, or just feel are plain awesome.

My upbringing was bizarre enough that to compete with women never occurred to me until high school when Laura pretty-mean-girl nominated herself my torturer. She aptly pointed out I wasn’t thin enough, beautiful enough, nor smart enough to cut it at Saint Francis High School. Ohh, one more thing — I wasn’t Catholic enough either (my mommy was a Buddhist). Can I just say Catholicism wasn’t something I aspired to. I skipped mass all the time.

Somehow I endured nasty Laura and other challenges to be right here, right now, writing these words. My mindset has always been to support other women, to celebrate our triumphs, to cry together when things turn to shit. I LOVE us. The one gleaming piece of knowledge I’ve come away with from my travels is women all over the planet still deserve more than what they’ve gotten.

In the spirit of forgiveness towards Laura what’s-her-name, these five women are on my radar because they do things that we can all aspire to — whatever gender you are.

My Favorite Sunsets in Panama

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Why do we only pay attention to sunsets while on vacation?

I think this is sad.

When was the last time you looked up and really saw a sunset? I don’t mean briefly glancing as you punch in a text on your smartphone, but actually putting it down to watch muted changes in the sky? On a regular ol’ Monday?

We don’t pause enough to reflect, or even worse, we ignore what’s relevant — like living in the moment.

We are always obsessed with the past or ticking off what’s next.

An ugly realization: sometimes a moment is all we have.

Creative Revolution: What Can One Week of Writing Do?

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It was magical.

This phrase has been used and misused in a crapload of poorly written articles.

But my week in Costa Rica really was magical.

It seemed like I lost my mind — announcing that Leigh Shulman and I were launching a writer’s retreat for women only, to inspire them to get writing and believe in their damn selves.

What Are my Upcoming Plans for This Week?

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I’m taking a brief break from Panama and heading to a place that I recently discovered for a special purpose!

I’m still pinching myself that all our hard work paid off.

It was a risk for both Leigh and I to take — when previously our work involved solo efforts (with my occasional team project).

Washington, DC in the Cold

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Before I ever stepped foot in Washington, D.C. numerous warnings used to hit my Facebook feed.

Oh, don’t go there — there’s so much crime!”

“Washington has some scary neighborhoods.”

When I taught in China, there was a popular exercise I did with students when I assigned groups an American city and they presented which monuments they wanted to see and how much they planned to spend on this once in a lifetime vacation to the United States.

Nobody groaned about being assigned New York City or San Francisco — but when it came to Washington D.C., dissenting voices arose. “But teacher, Washington is dangerous, yes?”

I lacked an answer because at that point I’d never been to D.C., nor did I want to express a misguided opinion.